Saltiness often enhances our enjoyment of certain foods -- think French fries or a Margarita. But salt is an essential nutrient for humans and other animals, and far from being a trivial matter of taste, the ability to detect salt is critical for survival. A University of Iowa study provides insight on how humans and other animals are able to detect salt. The study appears in the July 3 issue of Neuron.
"Given that salt is essential for survival, it is not surprising that animals have developed the ability to detect salt, even at low concentrations. This sense allows them to seek out, and then consume salt," said Michael Welsh, M.D., the Roy J. Carver Biomedical Research Chair in Internal Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics, UI Professor, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. "We were interested in identifying the receptors that detect small quantities of salt."
The ability to detect when something is too salty is also important. Consuming very high concentrations of salt could be potentially harmful.
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